The Groundsman

June 2014

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Scarification is a very useful routine maintenance task which is often carried out to help prevent and control thatch within a sward. It also, arguably, plays a more important part in maintaining a healthy sward by removing surface organic litter, thinning the sward to maintain good air flow among grass blades, creates a more upright growth habit, reduces finer weed content such as clover, yarrow and reduces weed grasses such as annual meadow grass and Yorkshire fog. Mowing of the sward is typically carried out following scarification so that the grass surface is left in a tidy and even condition which is more suitable for play to take place. The term scarification can cover a light raking of a surface through to a deep penetration of the sward profile resulting in severe ripping out of organic matter. A light to medium scarification will form the basis of this routine task carried out on a grass surface. This will maintain a desirable level of thatch (of around 5mm) to aid resilience and wear tolerance, but will prevent it building up to undesirable levels. If the thatch layer is quite deep (greater than around 15mm) then scarification should not generally be used to try and remove it otherwise the surface can be destroyed. Hollow tining is more effective at controlling an existing severe thatch problem, or in more extreme cases stripping off the entire surface then removing the thatch may be needed. Scarification should only be carried out when the grass plant is growing actively. The reason for this is that the action of the tines can be quite severe and cause plant stress. If the plant is not growing strongly then it will take a longer time to recover and can leave unsightly remains of lines or grooves. During very dry conditions, the process of scarifying will typically cease otherwise sward thinning will occur, resulting in a reduction in playing and visual quality. The IOG's panel of experts answers your questions regarding groundsmanship issues, turf care advice, careers guidance or training matters Ask The Expert Please contact if you have a personal query or would like to share your views with our readers – we'd love to hear from you IOG ADVICE 15 the Groundsman June 2014 What is the purpose of scarification?

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